A Piece of the Countryside in a Concrete World

Deep amongst the hustle and bustle of busy city life, lies hundreds of gardens that keep London’s reputation as being one of the greenest city’s in Europe. An annual event known as the ‘Open Garden Squares Weekend’ is a time when these secret gardens, which are usually private, are open to the public giving many visitors the experience of a piece of the countryside in a concrete city. Over 200 gardens take part in the weekend event including 10 Downing Street, where only 50 tickets are allocated and only those 50 lucky ticket holders get to visit.

There are gardens of all styles and structures to be discovered, such as the Skip Gardens in Kings Cross, Derbyshire Street Pocket Park in Bethnal Green as well as gardens on barges, in museums, in schools, in allotments and on roof tops.

Not all gardens are open for the whole weekend although a guide book can be purchased along with tickets for visitors to plan ahead and make the most of their weekend and the event.

A great way to visit the popular and more secret gardens is to join a guided walk with an experienced and friendly City of London tour guide. Touring the gardens in this way is a great way to learn all about the aspects of each one. There is a choice of 47 of these guided walks to choose from during the weekend and booking is essential as places tend to fill up quickly.

If visitors prefer to complete a self-guided walk at their own pace and leisure then the guidebook will provide information as to which gardens are participating in the ‘Open Garden Squares’ weekend.

During previous years, feedback has led to an increase in activities for families with young children to make the weekend more appealing to all. A minimum of 20 gardens offer a range of activities including garden parties, crafts and games, face painting, quizzes, trails and a Punch and Judy performance.

For those families more interested in nature there are some gardens that will offer the opportunity to try pond-dipping, to interact with farm animals and to make bird houses and bug hotels.  As well as all this to keep the children occupied there are also a lot of gardens with outdoor play equipment so the little ones can run around while the parents and grandparents relax amongst the beauty surrounding them.

Many of the gardens also serve home-made food and cakes made from their own produce to offer refreshments on a busy day of exploring.

To accompany the walking tours there is also a diverse range of music to suit everybody’s tastes whether the music of favour is jazz, choir music, steel bands or classical there will be something somewhere that everyone will enjoy.

As well as walking tours there is also organised full-day cycling routes to various garden areas. These routes travel through the quieter more scenic streets of the London Cycle network. Cycle hire is available for short distances and these hire stations can be found at various locations around the city.

These event gardens are located all over London, and to make the most of the ‘Open Garden Square Weekend’ a stay in the Grand Royale London Hyde Park would make a great base as it is a central location and on many transport routes to various areas to access as many of these gardens as possible before the event closes.

When a day of discovering London’s hidden beauty has worn out even the most energetic traveller, it is easy to get the train to Paddington and Hyde Park from any of the tube stations on the London Underground network to get back to base, whether staying at the Grande Royale or any of the hotels near Great Cumberland Place.

There are many other Top attractions near Great Cumberland Place; some only a 3 minute walk away from the area. These other attractions, less than 1 mile away, are:

  • Marble Arch

Marble Arch is a famous London landmark. It is a 19th Century white marble triumphant arch and was designed in 1827 to be the state entrance of Buckingham Palace. The arch was stood in front in front of the Palace where the well-known balcony is positioned. Marble Arch was relocated in 1851 and in the 1960’s it was sited and isolated on a large traffic island at the junction of Park Lane, Oxford Street and Edgware Road. Historically only members of the Royal family were permitted to pass through the Arch but this now only happens during ceremonial processions.

  • Oxford Street

Oxford Street runs for approximately one and a half miles from Marble Arch and is the busiest shopping street in the West End of London and is home to over 300 shops. Although it is the biggest shopping street within Inner London it is not the most expensive and fashionable. Oxford Street forms part of a larger shopping area including Regent Street and Bond Street.

  • Selfridges

Selfridges is a Grade II listed building located in Oxford Street. Opened in 1909 and with 540,000 square feet of selling space it is the second largest department store in the UK. It has, in recent past year been awarded the world’s best department store.

Image Courtesy : Chmee2

  • Edgware Road

Famous for its distinctive Middle-Eastern culture, Edgware Road is home to many Lebanese restaurants and shisha cafes and clubs, with the opportunity to be entertained late into the night.

  • Madame Tussauds

Housed in the former London Planetarium, Madame Tussauds London is the first of its kind opened in 1884. The museum is a very popular tourist attraction and known for recreating life size wax models of celebrities. With the posts and red rope removed, visitors can get up close and personal with the wax work models. There are now 12 Madame Tussauds museums located in major cities around the world.

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